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Jun 5, 2013

Ibra: Ban ref, not Leonardo

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has hit back at the referee who was barged into by Paris Saint-Germain sporting director Leonardo, saying the Brazilian's hefty suspension should have been given to the official instead.

• Blog: Farewell to 'Mr PSG'

Leonardo was banned from exercising official matchday duties for nine months after being found guilty of deliberately shoulder-charging referee Alexandre Castro following PSG's 1-1 home draw with Valenciennes on May 5.

PSG forward Ibrahimovic told the media he can scarcely believe the sanction, which will only end in February 2014 and was accompanied by a potential three-point deduction for his club should a similar incident occur next season.

"I thought I'd seen everything, but clearly not," Ibrahimovic, speaking after Sweden's 1-0 win over Macedonia on Monday, said. "Certain things happen and shouldn't happen again. It's incredible. Where did they get this referee from? For me, it's him who should have been banned for nine months."

The former Juventus, Inter and AC Milan forward had already launched an attack on Castro and his colleagues ten days ago, telling TF1: "In the French league, certain referees are really bad."

He added: "I came here to develop French football, to improve it. PSG has built this project to help Ligue 1 grow, but that must not only apply to the players. The referees also have to get up to speed."

Last season's French top-flight top scorer described the red card Castro showed to PSG captain Thiago Silva, 28, which was reportedly the source of Leonardo's ire against the referee, as "ridiculous" and claimed French referees "destroy a lot of matches".

Earlier this week, Castro filed a police complaint after receiving death threats.

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